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Posted November 25, 2013

Book: Meditations on Vatican Art
Author: Mark Haydu
Liguori. Liguori, MO. 2013. Pp. 30

An Excerpt from the jacket:

Deepen your relationship with God as you reflect on art from the Vatican collection and pray the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.

Fr. Mark Haydu, international coordinator of the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums, serves as the spiritual guide for this exquisite collection of art, contemplation, and prayer.

The book follows the four categories of the Ignatian Exercises:

Creation, sin, Jesus Christ and Resurrection. Each day of prayer includes Vatican Art image with a poetic overview and short descriptive background information about the art.

scripture passage

reflection on the art image

concluding prayer

reflective questions for the reader to ponder or use as writing prompts

An Excerpt from the book:

The Embrace
Pope John Paul II is depicted embracing Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski
Artist is Pedro Cano
Taken from Contemporary Art Collection 1980

The Embrace is a powerful image that accentuates paternal love and union. The painting recollects the moment when Pope John Paul II, at the Mass of installation to the papacy, embraced his mentor and lifelong friend, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski. The contrast with the background along with more subdued coloring gives the painting a certain eternal quality. Portraying a moment frozen in time, it represents something much bigger than the historical event that inspired it. For Christians, eternal and deeper realities are ever-present in the Gospel and evident in those being transformed by it. The parable of the prodigal son is a quintessential one of humble recognition of one’s sin and the merciful acceptance of the Father.

In this painting, the two figures are subtly distinguishable, one from the other, and seem to be fused together,almost as though two figures have been carved out of one piece of marble. The mutual self-giving love makes this exchange striking, recalling indeed the embrace of the prodigal son and his forgiving father. There is no distance between the characters portrayed in the this painting, no rancor or questioning, only the total happiness of being forgiven and of having each other back again.

Prayer and Reflection

Jesus, you do not look to condemn ay of your children but desire to blot out their offenses and in full communion with each of us. Help us not to dwell on our weaknesses but on your infinite love for us. Amen.

When have you experienced the loving embrace of one who deeply loves you? How has this experience touched you personally?

Do you believe God loves you unconditionally? Explain

What moments have blocked you from God’s love? List some ways that will rekindle your relationship with the Lord.

Spiritual Exercise

Journal today about the moments you have felt God’s merciful embrace. If it helps, reach out to someone you are close to --- a spouse, sibling, or child --- and offer some expression of appreciation and affection.